Wimbledon: Influence of Andy Murray can spread further after ATP appointment

GETTING READY: Andy Murray practices at SW19 on Sunday ahead of the start of this year's Wimbledon. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA.
GETTING READY: Andy Murray practices at SW19 on Sunday ahead of the start of this year's Wimbledon. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA.
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Andy Murray has long set the standard in British tennis and now the Scot is keen to have more of an influence on the wider game.

The 29-year-old was on Sunday announced as one of the new members of the ATP Player Council and will serve a two-year term.

Andy Murray practices with guidance from coach Ivan Lendl. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA.

Andy Murray practices with guidance from coach Ivan Lendl. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA.

Murray has been one of the most outspoken players on a number of issues, including drugs and equality.

The player council meets several times a year and makes recommendations to the ATP board on the direction they feel tennis should take.

Joining Murray as new board members are his brother Jamie, the world No 1 in doubles, and great rival Novak Djokovic.

Murray is likely to have some lively discussions given one of the other council members, Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky, is the most vocal opponent of equal prize money among current players.

Tennis fans arrive to set up their tents at the back of the Queue ahead of the start of Wimbledon. Picture: Adam Davy/PA.

Tennis fans arrive to set up their tents at the back of the Queue ahead of the start of Wimbledon. Picture: Adam Davy/PA.

“It’s the first time I’m getting involved in something like this and I’m looking forward to getting started with the rest of the guys on the council,” said Murray.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth on the ATP World Tour in recent years and hopefully we can continue that.”

Murray’s influence on the success of British tennis as a whole is not a straightforward thing to gauge but, in terms of setting a good example, he can barely be faulted.

The 29-year-old’s work ethic is exemplary and he follows the fortunes of other British players avidly, offering encouragement and practice opportunities.

Murray has invited James Ward and Kyle Edmund to his training camps in Miami and both have spoken of the importance of their relationship with him.

Naomi Broady, meanwhile, cited Murray’s Wimbledon victory in 2013 as the moment that triggered the upturn in fortunes.

Ward, Edmund and Broady are among 15 British singles players in action at Wimbledon. Eight of those earned their place without the need for a wild card, the most since 1985.

The draw was generally not kind to the home players, so there may not be many British victories, but Murray is encouraged by the state of the game.

He said: “Things are hopefully going in the right direction. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s more positive than some of the years I’ve been here, for sure.

“I have obviously spent a decent amount of time with Wardy and Kyle, a little bit more time with Evo (Dan Evans). I’ve tried to practise with them and help where I can.

“If that’s made a small difference to them, then that’s great. The players need to do the work, as well, ultimately.

“So it comes down to them.

“If I’ve given them a little bit extra incentive to work a bit harder or motivated them in any way, then I’m really, really happy about that.

“That’s the culture you want in this sport in this country because that’s something that I think a lot of players, coaches, people that have been involved in the game, they feel like we’ve lacked that a bit in the past. Hopefully, moving forward that will be something we do a little bit better.”

Murray plays a countryman in the opening round for the first time at a grand slam, with 22-year-old wild card Liam Broady his opponent tomorrow.

The world No 2 warmed up for the clash yesterday by hitting with another British player, Alex Ward, at Aorangi Park.

The most unlikely home contender is 25-year-old Marcus Willis, who had been taking a break from the game to earn some money coaching.

Willis, ranked 775, entered the pre-qualifying event and, after winning three matches there to earn his place in qualifying, posted three more victories to make the main draw.

Willis will play Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in round one and, should he win that, would almost certainly face Roger Federer.

Murray said: “It was great for him to qualify. I remember actually, it was a couple of years ago, he was trying to get some funding together because he wanted to try to play a full year on the tour.

“I remember retweeting something he was doing to try and raise money online to keep playing because he wasn’t getting any funding any more.

“He’d been to one of the Davis Cup ties when we played here. I think it was against Austria. He’s a really nice, good, fun guy. He’s really popular with all of the players.

“It’s just a really cool story.

“Obviously there are no guarantees he wins his first match, but with the potential to play Roger, it would be a really amazing story.

“I’m happy for him he’s got the chance to play here. It’s obviously something he always wanted to do. He’s earned his chance now.”